Can Clear Fault Cases Really Not Be Won?
Sometimes I have clients, friends, and other people I talk to say something akin to, “Well, this is easy. The injury is obviously the other side’s fault. There is no way anyone could lose this case.” To that I say, 1) Even obvious cases are never easy; 2) It takes hard work to PROVE most cases; and 3) Sometimes, even if everything is done right, the jury simply does not care. We must give them a reason to care.
Today I saw the following post by a defense firm touting a jury win in a case where the defendant driver was admitted to be the “cause” of a head-on collision by traveling across the center line in wet weather.
Now for those of you that are following, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals handles all federal cases appealed out of Texas and Louisiana. The court essentially blessed the jury’s finding of no negligence because “causing” an injury does not mean negligently causing an injury.
What does that mean to you if you are injured or to a lawyer preparing to handle a case that appears “obvious”?
First of all, the lawyer in an obvious case still must prove “why” the person causing the wreck acted in the manner that they did, and the lawyer must also show that the “why” is not reasonable in the circumstances. I have seen far too many lawyers not focus on the why and the lack of reasonableness in the circumstances in injuries caused by negligence.
The lack of reasonableness under the circumstances requires evidence of what all bad could have happened because of the other parties’ choices, who it could have happened to, and what safer alternatives were available. This really defines the dangerousness of the choices. It is important for the lawyer and the client to realize that unless the jury fully understands the dangerous choices that the other side made that resulted in injury, juries will sometimes find no negligence even in the face of violations of traffic laws (like driving in the wrong lane of traffic) and the courts will uphold them.
A McCraw Attorney Could Help You Be Successful
For the client or injury victim, please understand that the facts of how the injury occurred alone are not necessarily enough to win, and certainly is rarely enough to drive a significant recovery even when the injuries are severe. Choosing a law firm on factors such as price or prior knowledge of the lawyer or because the case is “easy” is not the way to maximize your chances of a significant recovery. The way to win is to develop the evidence of “why” and “how the crash could have and should have been avoided.” The way to win is to highlight just how dangerous it is to drive too fast and lose control on a wet road and highlight who all could be hurt and how bad the injuries regularly are. The way to win is to really think about all potentially available evidence to prove the “why,” “how,” and “how bad it could be,” and go get that evidence ready for trial.
The lesson is simple. We cannot assume that the jury will do the right thing just because someone else caused a wreck, and we certainly know that the court of appeals will not equate a stipulation of cause with an admission of negligence being the cause of injuries. We at McCraw Law Group work hard and smart to ensure that we maximize the chances of the jury understanding what negligence really is, in all cases.